By Jane Brett:
Friday morning, 15 March 2013. Unfortunately, the previously arranged breakfast at the Legislature with Member of the Legislative Assembly, Rob Fleming (Environment critic), was cancelled very late on Thursday, preventing other arrangements for that time slot. Instead, Vidalina, Rhina, Magdalena and Jane started the morning with breakfast at the café on the Dallas Road waterfront above the dive shop. The coastal fog was so dense we couldn't even see the end of the breakwater, much less the usually dazzling 180 degree view of the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We chose a warm spot on the deck where we could see the pilot boats –also the site of the visit (and protest) last year of the Chilean “torture ship,” the Esmeralda.
Pedro Cabezas called from San Salvador during breakfast and had a chat with Vidalina, before we headed off to the Royal BC Museum. In order to make up for not having arranged a meeting with First Nations elders during her stay, we made visiting The First Peoples gallery the priority. Here, Vidalina became acquainted with the history and living culture of the families still trying to settle land claims in British Columbia where it has only been 150 years since their sophisticated culture began to be attacked and their lands stolen.
We also visited the natural history section so that she could see the wooly mammoth and touch the tusk of a 10,000 year old musk ox. When she kneeled on the “stones” to touch the [plastic] “salmon” in the “stream,” the alarm went off and we followed Rhina’s direction to “run”! Just a bunch of school girls, really! Of most interest was the opportunity to “pan for gold” in the mining section of the museum. No, they wouldn't let us take any home! But we did give her a golden “loonie” ($1 Canadian coin) with a super-imposed oily, black plastic loon decal, part of the Dogwood Initiative’s campaign against oil tankers on our coast. We also saw the amazing wildlife photographic exhibit where 100 photos had been chosen from 48,000 entries submitted from 98 countries. This is a “picture” of the world like you've never seen!
On the way to the airport, we pointed out the highway intersection where the large Idle No More rally had successfully blocked the highway for an hour last month. We told Vidalina about the demands indigenous people in Canada are making of their government for water, housing, health care. It was hard to let her go in the big crowd lined up for the Calgary flight, but knowing that we had arranged for her to have wheelchair escort through the terminal when she got there gave us hope she would make her connection to Toronto within the 1/2 hour lay-over. We are grateful for all that Vidalina taught so many of us in Victoria. She is quite clearly a brave and courageous woman who is working extremely well in coalition with others to create a different picture of "development".